Lost Password?

Are You Married to Your Audience, or Just Dating?

(Enjoy this excerpt from Tom’s Live Music Method book, on how to begin constructing a set list that will build a fan base, get you more gigs, and help you sell more merch:)

What does it mean to be married to your audience? Or to be dating your audience? Let me explain with some real examples.

Some of the artists I work with are “married” to their audiences. They have a deep relationship with them. How do you know? These artists get tons of press and loads of airplay, they are interviewed regularly, they’ve sold a significant number of CDs, and their audience knows them well. They are married to their audience.

Most artists, however, are still dating. They are trying to develop a following, and when they play, there are probably more people who don’t know them than do. As a result, the psychology of the show is different when you are dating vs. when you are married.

If you are married to your audience, when you come out and sing the first song the audience jumps to their feet and sings along with you … because they already know you and love you.

If you are dating your audience, when you come out and sing your first song the audience gives you a curious stare. They are trying to figure out whether they like you or not.

Imagine you are at a party with all your friends — everyone there is someone you know well and like. You’re relaxed, comfortable, and confident. Then you go to a party with an entire guest list of people you’ve never met before. You’re reserved, a little nervous, and may even try to impress the people you’re talking to. It’s a whole different experience.

It’s the same from stage, which is why you need to know if you are dating or married to your audience. Look at it this way. I could walk up to my wife and give her a big kiss and pinch her. She’s going to playfully say, “Oh, stop it,” but if I did that on our first date, she would have slapped me!

If you are in a dating relationship with your audience, you must understand the boundaries, know where you are in the process, and act accordingly. If you don’t, you will lose your audience. One of the worst things you can do (and I see it happen all the time) is to come out for your first song and yell, “Come on everybody, stand up and put your hands together!” In most cases, they will stand up, but they will do it reluctantly, and there is an awkward feeling in the room because it’s too early in the relationship to require that of them. If you do this, you are immediately off on the wrong foot.

Understanding your relationship with your audience has everything to do with constructing your set list. And in case you are wondering where you are, most of you (unless your name is Sting, Adele, or Pink) are dating your audience. You may have developed a small fan base, and if you do this right, your fan base will drag more people to your show, and you’ll sell more music, more downloads, and move into a married relationship with the masses.

But for now, you are probably dating your audience, so plan your set list from that perspective.


Tom Jackson

Tom is uniquely talented and skilled at transforming an artist's live show into a magical experience for the audience; helping artists at every level create a live show that is engaging and memorable, teaching them to exceed their audiences' expectations and to create fans for life. Tom has taught indie and major artists of every genre. He has worked with Taylor Swift, Le Crae, Home Free, The Tenors, Shawn Mendes, The Band Perry, Francesca Battistelli, Jars of Clay, & many more. Tom also teaches at colleges, conferences and events worldwide.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:

Step Up To The Microphone & Leave a Comment